‘Your bank manager doesn’t want you to see this!’. ‘How this single mom started earning 6 figures overnight! (Steps inside!)’. ‘Shocking new pics of (insert celebrity name here) you won’t believe!’. 

We’ve all seen them, and probably fallen for them a couple times too. Headlines that are designed to spark our curiosity, but invariably lead to some sales pitch for a dodgy product or business not even remotely connected to the subject matter.

This is clickbait – and while it might be tempting to employ these tactics to get people reading your content, especially for small businesses trying to get their foot in the door, it can be disastrous for your online reputation, and ultimately, your brand as a whole. Here’s what to do instead. 

Why writing good headlines for your content is important

Firstly, let’s remind ourselves why we care so much about headlines in the first place. A lot of the time, you’ve only got a few seconds, and one sentence, to convince a potential reader your content is worth their time. If your headline is boring, that reader’s going to assume the rest of your article is too. 

A great headline addresses several points in one catchy sentence:

  • Who your content will benefit most 
  • What problem it can help them solve 
  • Why this piece of content is something special 

This way, you’re giving them everything they need to make an informed decision whether to click that link, or not. The bonus for you? Only genuinely interested prospects with an actual chance of turning into customers enter your sales funnel.  

What clickbait is, and why using it’s a really bad idea 

All good headlines use emotional language to grab the reader’s attention. And there’s nothing wrong with that – so long as you’re not abusing their emotions for your own gain. 

That’s what clickbait does. It taps into a desire, pain point – or even just morbid curiosity – to get someone to click a link that’s actually of no benefit to them. It promises, but doesn’t deliver. It’s all sizzle, no steak.

Is that the takeaway you want your readers to get from their first interaction with your brand? Of course not. 

How to write great headlines, without resorting to clickbait tactics 

After completing and optimising the content itself, ask yourself three questions. 

  • Who is that aimed at? 
  • How does it help them? What challenges does it address? 
  • What makes my content different from what’s already out there? 

Those are the basic ingredients for a good headline. Finally, you want to add a little sprinkle of excitement with some enticing linguistic tricks! Good strategies include:

  • Employ a little hyperbole – instead of ‘boost sales’ think ‘skyrocket sales’
  • Add some intrigue – ‘forget everything you know about x’
  • Use numbers – people are more likely to trust content that quantifies itself. For example, ’10 ways to…’ ‘5 steps towards…’ 
  • Use exciting adjectives – like best, ultimate, awesome, complete, hottest, etc.
  • Be specific – vague headlines are confusing at best. Make sure your title conveys exactly what the reader can expect to learn. 
  • Make it personal – just using the word ‘you’ in your headline can grab a busy prospect’s attention.     

Not sure where to start? Hunter & Scribe, Australia’s small business marketing experts, are here to help. Our content marketing specialists can help you craft compelling content, complete with killer headlines, that engages your target audience. Get in touch